Good morning Folks
I trust that you had an awesome weekend. Here is the weekly round-up of happenings from the land of *bootless Traffic Cops.
(Ponch & Jon would sort this ineffectual shower out!)
Thursday saw the Nipper´s 2nd birthday. 2 years! Where has that gone?
It has been a bit of a bonkers year (& not an easy one), but it has been amazing to see the changes in the Wee One. Developing from a wriggling baby, to a little destructive toddler with a lot of character (& who knows exactly when she is doing something that she shouldn´t as she smiles, when she is up to no good! (She smiles at other times too, she is not just a mischievous monkey).She has adapted brilliantly to life in Lima, much better than I have to be honest. Her Spanish is coming on well (she has a lot more exposure to Español here). Her English is also coming on, but not as well as her Spanish (with thanks to Peppa Pig/Pocoyo & no thanks to her mumbling old man.Her 3rd language (a mixture of what sounds like Chinese, Japanese & Mongolian) is also really good. I´m not sure where it comes from, possibly she is just imitating what she hears from me!
She got a diddy scooter for her birthday & her balance is already much better than mine.Whenever she hears a motorbike she says “Daddy” & she talks a lot about horses. I hope I don´t find her one day in the “Telepodromo” (Bookies!) The tantrums are revving up in intensity & she is becoming very assertive (bossy).
Today she made me wear a big down jacket (& it is even hotter than usual today) to do the housework (whilst she used her fan to keep cool!)
Her favourite two words (apart from “no”) are “sola
” (I’ll do it on my own) or “mia
” (it’s mine!)
(However, she does insist on clicking closed all the clips on my boots whenever I come home, so she looks after me!
I may have mentioned my neighbours in previous blogs! We have the hounds of the Baskervilles at the front. At the back, there is the family from hell (24hr yapping poodle/squawking parrot/squawking missus/squawking kids), Mother and daughter rowing above, plus above/below there are Castle Greyskull style slamming iron gates, (plus a mother/daughter who row constantly above). It’s a long way from Paradise & would be a great place for the hard-of-hearing. Added to all this, the entire building seems to have been fettled out of hollow bricks which transmit sound brilliantly. If someone is drilling upstairs (& they usually are), it sounds like they are just about to come through the wall. As the Nipper isn’t the greatest of sleepers, any sleep is good, but it’s rarely a peaceful sleep.
Anyroad, on Thursday morning we were singing a quiet Happy Birthday to the Nipper & were being drowned out from below, with a “Slam-slam-slam-slam-slam-slam-slam…” I opened the door & said (didn’t shout/holler/yell) “Please keep the noise down” (in Spanish). The noise stopped & I thought no more of it. The noise has been a constant source of earache since we moved in here in September: Midnight, 1:30am & 6am. “Slam-slam-slam”. If something doesn’t close, slam it! Rather than look at why it maybe isn’t closing. Now this door below has finally given up the ghost after a wretched life of having been slammed one too many times, it’s knackered. I was told (Mafia style, not quite a horse’s head, but always second-hand) that I shouldn’t shout, but go to see what the problem is, and so it seems that I am being blanked by half of the building! Bad lad. “Disgraced Gringo!” I’m quite glad, they can all take a long walk on a short pier, noisy buggers! Maybe I am the bad guy for expecting people to give a monkey’s about anybody else…
There is a fascinating book by the name of “Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, it’s not a lot to with Clunks & even less to do with Zen! It is however, a really gripping book (& based on a true story I believe. I’m not much of a fiction fan & it does read more like fiction, but I rate it as a great book. It sold 5 million copies worldwide & was rejected by 121 publisher, a record by all accounts!)
I’m not going to review it here, but half of the story revolves around a chap & his lad on a Clunk trip, with another couple on another bike. They are polar opposites. The other parallel story is very different & quite disturbing, whilst being compelling at the same time. I can empathise with this book, a lot. The author/narrator/main character is forever tinkering with his Clunk, whereas his companions (John & Sylvia) have a phobia towards any kind of fettling maintenance. It gets them down.
Now I used to also be guilty of this. Problems with cars (I’ve always had old bangers) always gave me a real sinking feeling. Despite absolutely despising shifts, working at the Brewery did teach me a lot, especially with regards machines. It’s all very logical, which I like. Most of the Clunks I ride are old bangers too & the good news is that they don’t need to be hooked up to a laptop to be diagnosed. Haynes Manuals are the gospel, but out here I have to rely on free PDFs & YouTube tutorials. I’ve had to buy a few tools, but it’s a good feeling to be able to do basic maintenance yourself. Plus, when the Clunk is playing up, rather than groan inwardly & take it straight to a garage, I try to work it out (& then generally take it to a garage, but I try!) The Honda Clunk I buzz around town on has had a hard life & is slowly being rebuilt bit-by-bit. Whenever I get my bag of tricks out & start tinkering people always think it’s broken. “Oh your bike is knackered again” they say. No, I’m fixing it before it breaks. Preventative maintenance, it’s not common here…
Operation Secure Clunk!
Crime is a huge problem here in Lima. I don’t know why, whether it is down to the huge disparity in wealth or otherwise, I don’t know, but you do need to watch your bits&bats. If it’s not chained down, it’s gone! The Police have bigger fish to fry & most street level security is down to the “Huachimen”, hired blokes who ride around on bikes & blow whistles (& little else). In our flats we also have a chap who comes & sits bored out of his brains downstairs at the main gate. Now I don’t live in a bad part of town, it’s not Beverley Hills, more like Morley (!) There was a burglary in the building last year & since then everybody has gone a bit security mad (hence the noisy iron doors). An electric fence & cameras were installed. Better safe than sorry. Now there is a complication here as another resident here had a break-in at her old gaff & blamed it on the Huachimen. The Huachimen are paid by all residents, but this particular person decided not to pay the Huachimen, who is part of “La Junta”, (of the flats, not planning to take over the government with force!) It’s not right & although I don’t expect they would look away if a bloke with a mask, striped top & a big bag labelled “swag” was running out of the gate, why should they really keep an eye on the place?! Now, Thursday saw some drama as the cameras which point towards the entrance were pointing skywards! Upon inspection of the video footage they had been bashed with a broomstick (& indeed bashed, as in broken!) On top of all this it appears that the criminals were trying to get at the Clunk!!!!
A scruffy six-year old dirt bike, worth about £500 (being generous!) So, Clunk security will be getting upgraded this week, as if it did get nabbed I would be stuffed (& would have nothing to write/moan about here!)
I love my job, it’s really the only thing that I like about living here. It’s a good company, with awesome colleagues & great students. However, this week a bombshell was dropped… I worked part-time from May 2015 & was made full-time in January. It is full-time too! I’m working 45hrs a week, which isn’t loads, but 45hrs lesson time equals a lot more prep/marking, it’s full-on. Out here people are allocated their holidays in a one month block (allocated, it’s not chosen). No ad-hoc days off, nor weeks here & there. A month. There may be a reason, but I’m not sure what it is. I guess it must be easier to provide cover, but I don’t know (& when I ask, I am met with blank stares!) So, I was told that I only get holidays after working 12mths full-time, so it’ll be in 2017 that I finally get a break. It’s not a moan against the company, it’s standard working law here. I guess I was a bit spoilt at the British Library (Flexitime!)
I love the Clunk. It’s a long way off perfect & it’s taken some fettling to get it to as it is now, but I love it. On Wednesday I started thinking “Maybe as/when we go back to Blighty, I could import it…” After 15mins on the internet, I can confirm that this will not be happening. A veritable red-tape hornet’s nest (& that’s just at this end. Import taxes & DVLA re-registration at the far end are another matter) that will cost wayyyy more than the Clunk is worth. Sadly it won’t be getting a breath of Blighty air (although I’m not sure it’d cope with the weather! I’ve never had to use the choke here…)
I’ve moved house 35 times & my CV is in several volumes. I do get itchy feet & find it hard to settle. If things aren’t right I try to resolve them, but if they can’t be resolved I move on (& sometimes go back, but that is a different story). Life is too short to be unhappy, you only get one chance. I know some people do believe in reincarnation, but I wouldn’t like to risk it & have a crappy life now, in the hope that all would be better in the next life (if in fact there is no net life!)
It was my idea to come out here. I was first here as a volunteer in 2004 on a round-the-World ticket, but something about Lima had got under my skin so I returned in February 2005. It was a risk & it was hard. I had no contacts & getting work was a job in itself, but I survived. A lot happened, I got married & a change in government was one of the main reasons for a return to Blighty in 2006. I never really settled & always daydreamed of Latin American life…
Fast forward to June 2014. After trying to persuade (nagging) Lina, she finally gave in & agreed to moving back, on a trial basis. When the Nipper arrived I had kind of forgotten about the idea, but despite earning decent bra$$ at the Brewery it wasn’t a big enough pull to keep me there. I’ll be honest, it has been an adventure & one of the hardest years of my life (so far), but I haven’t settled (surprise, surprise!) Lima the city has changed, I’ve changed & the rose-tinted-spectacles that I had in my back pocket were sat on & smashed a long time ago. I like my job & escaping now & again on the Clunk early on a Sunday morning is great, but that’s what it is, an escape.
Somebody once said to me “What are you running away from?” & I didn’t have an answer & I still don’t & I think about it a lot. Why can’t I just settle down? The sad thing is that here, the things that used to amuse me now irritate me, the things that used to irritate me now infuriate me & I’ve noticed my “Radginess levels getting higher & my fuse getting increasingly shorter. The usual grumbles; incessant noise, horrendous traffic, complete lack of basic manners/a “Look-after-numero-uno” attitude & I have found myself struggling more & more with the lingo, as I find it harder & harder to actually learn Spanish, rather than the bus conductor level I have & have had for 11 years! In short, it’s beaten me.
People say “That’s just the way it is, accept it”, but I can’t. It’s frustrating beyond belief how people accept things that could be changed & which would make life better/easier. Every day I see people doing pointless tasks, or doing a task which could be made easier/quicker/more efficient, but will never change as “That’s the way it has always been done”. A complete lack of logic in most situations. There are more laws than you can imagine, making everything long-winded/complicated/impossible, but on the other hand if you saw the way punters drive, you would think that there were no rules whatsoever.
I’m not going to grumble about the Police (in case they are reading), but to say that they are the biggest police force in Latin America, I don’t know what they do! The famous “Ola Verde” (green wave. A harebrained idea to use Police to direct traffic as well as the traffic lights) was out in force on Friday afternoon. Seven Officers working against all sense, logic & the lights themselves, were keeping southbound traffic (ie, me & a hundred other restless punters) from moving. The lights changed 4 times & we still didn’t move. I cracked and swore (in English, through my helmet, in noisy traffic) at the Policeman, telling him how to do his job better (what was I thinking of!) He glared & growled at me & I thought I was in for some trouble, but he was far too busy stopping any kind of flow to get involved in paperwork. There is always a feeling that something has just happened, like an accident or a minor disaster, but this is just the way it is, always. We didn’t move & didn’t move & then a selfish punter in a truck jumped their signal & blocked any kind of movment anyway. I can’t see it (the traffic) ever improving.
There is a constant pressure about “What other people think”, which is not me at all. People really fret about it. For example there was a 3″ gap in between the kitchen window & the wall, so that all six floors are in effect open. I plugged them with polystyrene. Why would I want to hear upstairs bickering or downstairs with the World’s loudest blender. I was told (second-hand) that I shouldn’t have done it, as “it looks bad”. (I had spotted the Junta Inspection team looking up from the street). Put a bit of polystyrene to fill a gap & you’re a bad sort. Have your music at the volume levels of Glastonbury until 7am & it’s “accepted”. It’s a load of old bobbins. Noses have been put out & relationships strained. I’m just not fitting in, but to be honest I’m past caring. We’ll just see what the future brings…
Sorry to moan. Nobody listens to me here! There are a lot of truly wonderful people here (& I have mates here who are extremely happy), but a lot of things/punter/pointless rules do my head in, in a big way.
I’m a Northern lad, I miss my mates, I miss the fells, I miss banter, I miss a good pint, I miss a decent pie, I miss the Rugby League & I miss my family. I’m just a bit knackered, hacked-off & homesick. Hopefully normal service will resume shortly!
Every night at 7pm there is a panic in the neighbourhood!
It is against the law (Law No. E11867/97c) to put your rubbish out before 7pm. Everybody panics that they are going to miss it. Then at around 10:30pm the sky is filled with the sounds of a Latino crooner from the speakers of the Binwagon, which is hotly pursued by some very energetic blokes, who hurl the bags into the back of the truck. Bags are then ripped open (by hand) & sorted as the wheels roll & the music plays. The Nipper loves it! It is normally around her bedtime, but she insists on watching the procession.
This LINK should hopefully open to show her reaction!
This is an artist’s impression of the Binmen themselves.
To finish on a positive note. I love dogs (apart from the howlers out front the yapper at the back. Dogs are ace!
This is WHY
Have an extremely awesome week.
Johnny, Lina & the Boss x
* Bootless in the archaic form, not that they don’t wear boots!